A father was pushing two little girls on swings across the street from a church. As one pointed out the cross on the top of the church, she said, "Daddy, why does Jesus have to keep dying on the cross every year. Before the father could answer, the other little girl said, "Until everyone knows why he did it." The father honoured her comment as he gently explained how God's people gather to understand and appreciate what Jesus did so long ago.
The Easter season seems to have been taken over by eggs and rabbits, but the reality is that is a time we should be turning our focus to the sacrifice made for us by Christ.
What a privilege it is to be reminded that the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection from the dead is the culmination of God's revelation of salvation.
Remembering Jesus' Death
All Jews celebrate the Passover to remember the time when God delivered his people from the Egyptians. Christians all over the world remember the death of Jesus, and celebrate the time when God freed his people from sin, Jesus specifically commanded his first disciples to make this remembrance as he took a fast supper with them on the night he was arrested: The day came during the Festival of Unleavened Bread when the lambs for the Passover meal were to be killed. Jesus sent off Peter and John with these instructions: 'Go and get the Passover meal ready for us to eat.'
When the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table with the apostles. He said to them, 'I have wanted so much to eat this Passover meal with you before 1 suffer! For I tell you, I will never eat it until it is given its full meaning in the kingdom of God.'
Then Jesus took a cup, gave thanks to God, and said, 'Take this and share it among yourselves. I tell you that from now on I will not drink this wine until the kingdom of God comes.' Then he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to them, saying 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.' In the same way, he gave them the cup after the supper, saying, 'This cup is God's new covenant sealed with my blood, which is poured out for you.' Luke 22:7,8,14-20
The idea of sacrifice is difficult, in our mind it is a barbaric practice. Sacrifice certainly is horrific - but so, in God's eyes, is our sin. Sacrifice was intended as a way to remove the problem of sin. So the extreme and distasteful nature of sacrifice only mirrored the extreme and distasteful nature of sin
Desperate diseases require desperate remedies
So, in the time of the Old Testament, the problem of sin was dealt with through a system of animal sacrifices. For the person who took part in a sacrifice, the significance lay in what the sacrifice represented
The person would bring an animal to be sacrificed and would lay his hands on the head of the animal to show God that he wished to be identified with it
Then, by killing it, he declared that because of his sins he himself deserved to die, but that the animal was dying in his place. These sacrifices had to be made again and again. They were not a perfect solution to the problem of sin
Jesus' death as a sacrifice The New Testament sees the death of Jesus as the perfect sacrifice, which only needed to be made once and for all. His death was perfect because he had lived a completely sinless life, and therefore did not deserve any punishment for sin. So, when Jesus died. God could accept his death for the sins of others, setting people free from the penalty and power of sin
John the Baptist once pointed his disciples towards Jesus, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29
In the Old Testament, lambs had to be offered continually because they were not an effective solution to sin. But, because the death of Jesus was a perfect solution, it only needed to happen once. Whenever we go to God to ask him to forgive our sins - which we do often throughout our lives - we can ask confidently, because of that one sacrifice Jesus made
There are other pictures in the New Testament that tell us what the death of Jesus meant, but the sacrifice picture is the central one. The other pictures speak more about what resulted from Jesus' death, but the picture of sacrifice shows us how his death takes away our sin
Easter Sunday fills us with hope that were not living our lives in vain. It tells us that there is life beyond this life, eternal life, and glorious life.
Death comes like a ruthless thief, snatching away a treasured person, leaving only memories in its wake. Death tries to extinguish the light of hope within us. The resurrection of Jesus gives us an eternal perspective of death that fills us with hope
Our hope comes from Mark's exciting account of Christ's resurrection. This is not a folk tale, it is a first hand account of a historical event that happened to real people at a real place. (Mark 16:1-14).
Some times it is hard to believe a real message of hope. Like those three women, we are so consumed by our own grief and disappointment that hope has a difficult time taking root in our lives. Hope is based on a factual foundation. The angel said, "He is not here, He is risen."
The bottom line is this, you can believe with confidence that Jesus rose from the dead. It was that confidence that inspired the Apostle to boldly declare, "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians. 15:55-58)
"He is risen, indeed!" And because He lives our life is more that a spark in the infinite darkness that appears, flickers, and dies forever. Eternal everlasting life is our certain hope.
His sacrificial death bridges the gap that existed between God and us because of our sin. If Jesus had not died there would be no salvation and no way to approach God. Jesus willingly took the punishment our sins deserve so that those who trust him as their Saviour can have eternal life
Therefore I invite you to receive Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. You can do that by praying this simple prayer of repentance and faith. Lord Jesus, forgive me for trying to live my life without you. Thank you for dying on the cross to save me from the penalty of my sin. I receive you as my Lord and Saviour. Take control of the throne of my life and make me the kind of person that you want me to be. Amen.